Petunia and the Vipers get toes tapping Upstairs

Vancouver band brings unique sound to Oak Bay Rec Centre's Upstairs Lounge

Petunia and the Vipers bring their dance-inducing music to the Upstairs Lounge at Oak Bay Recreation Centre Friday.

Petunia and the Vipers bring their dance-inducing music to the Upstairs Lounge at Oak Bay Recreation Centre Friday.



The audience is in for a good time Friday when Petunia and the Vipers roll into the Upstairs Lounge at Oak Bay Recreation Centre.

“They can expect great music,” Petunia said in an interview from Vancouver.

“I like to say there’s a good 20 spices in every song.”

The Vancouver-based band is tough to label – part old-school country, part rockabilly, part blues, part something all its own – but regardless of what you call it, the music is infectious.

Born and raised in rural Quebec, Petunia has been making music for two decades, a troubadour whose resume includes playing on every major street corner, subway station and park bench of Canada.

Joining with the Vipers a few years ago, they bring their exciting, original brand of roots music to a growing audience.

As a child, Petunia did a lot of singing around the house.

“I remember singing at home a lot in the kitchen,” he says, adding with a laugh that knowing just a few lines of a given song also provoked his mom to usher him out of the kitchen. “I remember being 11 or 12 saying I want to be a singer,” he said.

“I grew up … listening in my teens to punk rock music then moving on as young people do to other types of music.”

Queen, Led Zeppelin and a large David Bowie collection were among his favourites.

He later met a woman in Toronto whose suitcase of old cassette tapes provided a wealth of inspiration.

“That was pretty much how I trained myself,” he said.

Today Petunia has a unique, surreal style all of his own – his live performances have been likened to an avant-country night club scene from a David Lynch movie.

“When I’m writing music or making music, I’m not trying to write old-time. I’m just trying to do what I know how to do, and express myself,” he said.

“I like that music because it’s honest and pretty straightforward. I like those elements.”

The eclectic sounds influencing his music seem to naturally draw a diverse crowd of all ages and backgrounds, although he sees some similarities with those who were also into the punk rock scene when he was younger.

“Generally speaking you’ll find a common thread of an open mind,” he said.

Through the music, you can say a lot in a little bit, Petunia suggested.

“The words mean something. The message means something. That you’re there at the show means something.”

It also means you’ll likely have a lot of fun. “I like to say action and adventure,” Petunia said.

The Vipers include Stephen Nikleva on electric guitar, Jimmy Roy, a veteran lapsteel guitar player, Marc L’Esperance on drums and backing harmony vocals, Patrick Metzger, James Lillico and Sam Shoichet on upright bass.

The band recently recorded a new album, expected to be released later this year.

Learn more and get a taste of the music at www.petuniaandthevipers.com, and discover Petunia as a solo artist at www.petuniamusic.com.

When & where

• Petunia and the Vipers perform this Friday, Jan. 27, in the Upstairs Lounge at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre. Doors open at 6 p.m., music at 7:30 p.m.

• Tickets are $20 and available from the Oak Bay Recreation Centre reception, Ivy’s Bookshop or from www.beaconridgeproductions.com.